In five years she’s received three Academy Award nominations, won an Oscar, and brought two billion dollars to the Hollywood box office with her movies. On November, 21, Jennifer Lawrence returns for the third installment of The Hunger Games, but she has a dream: relax.
“Nice to meet you,” says Jennifer Lawrence, shaking my hand. Shining, frank, with a natural make-up, a brilliant white smile and intense eyes. “We met before,” I say. She blushes. “I’m sorry.” “It was a long time ago in Venice, you were a teenager!” “Oh my God!” she says. “When I came to the Film Festival for The Burning Plain , I was 18 years old, and I kept looking around asking myself: ‘Am I really in Venice? Someone pinch me!’ Since that moment, in just a few years, so many things happened, a lot of movies, awards, experiences beyond words.”
At the 2008 Venice Film Festival she was a just kid, but she was tough and ready to win over the world. And she did just that with The Hunger Games series, the Oscar she won for Silver Linings Playbook, for her acclaimed role in American Hustle, and her role in the blockbuster X-Men movies. Now, Jennifer Lawrence is 24 years old and probably the most talented, beautiful, spontaneous and straightforward actress of her generation.
Since 2008 you’ve had three Academy nominations and won an award. You worked with influential directors and in successful movies, and you’ve reached an impressive payroll, 10 million dollars for each one of the three Hunger Games sequels. What is your goal after all this?
It hasn’t been that many years, but they’ve been intense years. I had the chance to work with amazing directors and just as many amazing actors. I’ve realized the ultimate dream of any actress: be on top as a young actress, and in a short time. Now, my dream is to slack a little!
What’s your idea of slacking?
I don’t have a clear-cut idea: I’d just like not to have to work for a little while, be on the fringe, on the outskirts of Hollywood, hopefully driving around in a minivan (laughs).
Can you describe the changes in The Hunger Games series throughout the three movies?
Different directors gave their personal view to Katniss’ story. Gary Ross began the work, and Francis Lawrence carried it on. Francis gave a dark turn to the series, as he focused on the characters’ psychology. There are emotional and charged-up sequences which alternate with an in-depth analysis of characters’ behavior. The last two movies are a lot darker: it’s all grey, even in color. Katniss and her companions are suffering from PTSD. After Catching Fire they have to find themselves again and regain their strength.
In every movie of the series there is a favorite scene, one that is more unforgettable than the others. What’s your favourite scene in Mockingjay Part 1 and 2?
I’d say all the scenes with Julianne Moore, who plays President Alma Coin. She and Katniss are two strong and determined women. They have a similar vision of the world, but their ideas about the way to change it are completely different. Katniss is, with no self-consciousness, a threat to President Coin. I think that their relationship is very interesting and intense.
How did you train to be ready for these two movies?
Truth to be told, in the first part of Mockingjay, Katniss doesn’t have to go back to the Hunger Games, so she didn’t have a lot of stunts or fight scenes. Katniss has to adjust to life in District 13. She isn’t looking very good, and isn’t very healthy or strong. The first chapter will focus on my character more emotionally than physically.
And in Mockingjay – Part 2?
That’s another story! It will be an action movie, because it’s focused on the final war. There are a lot more stunts, violence, fights and gunshots. We shot it back-to-back with the first part, even though it will come out next year (on November, 20, 2015) but I had the time to train between shoots.
So, you’re a professional archer now?
I wouldn’t say professional, but don’t try to break into my house! (laughs)
Do you have your personal bow at home?
Sure. I don’t have much time to train, except for when I train for the movies, but learning how to shoot better is always a goal! Maybe I’ll take some additional lessons with my trainer for the series (Kathuna Lorig, who won a bronze medal for archery at Barcelona Olympics in 1992).
You became an actress when you were really young. Did you ever wish to become something else, when you were a child?
I committed to become an actress in five years. Otherwise I would have been a nurse. Or a doctor.
Can you tell us one of your secrets?
I don’t know I have any secrets (laughs). I love my job and that makes me really happy. But acting is a small part of me, I’d say more or less 3%.
In a previous interview you told someone you didn’t know where your Oscar was…
Now I know! It is at my mom’s! I wanted to hide it, but she said we had to show it off, keep it in plain sight. I didn’t agree because every time somebody came over, it just seemed like I wanted them to see it. So we compromised: the Oscar is at my parents’ house. They keep it on the piano.
Do you have a different approach to playing characters like Katniss or Mystique in X-Men than the characters you played on David O. Russell’s movies?
I wouldn’t say different approaches. Sometimes it helps me to think about how another actor would play my character. Watching yourself from the outside is an essential key for every actor. I usually think about my character played by a particualr person in my everyday life, a man whose name I wouldn’t tell you even if you tortured me.
To play your character in Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik’s movie for which you did receive your first nomination for an Academy Award, you had to learn how to skin a squirrel. Is it the oddest thing you had to learn on a movie set?
It surely is the most revolting thing I ever learned. I think I am the only actress alive who knows how to skin a squirrel. But I am happy I know how to do it, it could come useful later in life. You never know…